Archive for the ‘inspiring places’ Category
May 10, 2013 in handmade goodness, inspiring places
Another shop that I was really looking forward to visiting in Sydney was Mud. Their store at 134 Edgecliff Road in Woollahra was close to where we were staying, so I popped in to have a browse and take some snaps. I often use their handmade porcelain plates, bowls and cups when styling commercial photo shoots, drawn to it at the prop houses by the beautiful soft colours and mix of matt and gloss finishes.
I bought a little ceramic beaker as a memento of my visit to the shop and would have bought much more if I hadn’t been worried about the pieces getting damaged during the flights on the remainder of our trip.
You can see and find out more on the Mud Australia website.
The Mud website lists only three UK stockists; The Conran Shop, Designers Guild and Zecca, who amazingly is only a 10 minute walk from my house! I will be popping along there soon to see what they have in stock.
For now though I am happy with my little piece of Mud on display.
April 30, 2013 in inspiring places, interior styling
Sydney is full of interesting and exciting independent shops without the mass of high street chain shops thet we have here in the UK. One Thursday morning I visited a shop I have wanted to visit for a long time: The Society Inc, stylist and author Sibella Court’s shop at 18 Stewart Street, Paddington. With time restrictions on us, my husband and son went off with the camera to Deus Ex Machina, a shop he has been lusting at from afar for a long time too, and I headed to Sibella’s store with our daughter, armed only with my iPhone to take snaps (so please excuse the quality).
Having viewed the shop online from London it was a treat to visit, a treasure trove of curiosities and useful every day handy items. It was a small shop packed to the rafters with interesting bits and bobs, a combination of vintage, utility and sparkly. Everywhere your eye turned a new goodie was spotted. There was also a beautiful selection of paint designed by The Society Inc for Murobond, colours changing each quarter to transport you to different ‘societies’. I chatted with lovely Hannah in the store who kindly let me take these photos.
Sibella is a stylist and author whose work I admire and her books, Etcetera, Nomad and Bowerbird, are a joy to look through and a pleasure to have on my shelves, now even more so after visiting her gorgeous shop. If you are ever in Sydney do drop by.
Of course I came home wih a few treats, including a sparkly item that now sits on my mantlepiece glinting in the sun. I think I must be part magpie, part bowerbird.
April 25, 2013 in inspiring places
We are back home after having had the most fantastic time in Australia. We spent the first week in Sydney visiting friends and it was truly wonderful to catch up with them all. We saw many of the sights: the Rocks, the Bridge, the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, Anish Kapoor at the Museum of Contemporary Art (which we all loved) and many more. I managed to fit in a browse around some of the shops, but there were so many more I would have loved to visit. The weather was beautiful and we spent as much time on the beach as we did exploring the city. My son started surfing and if we weren’t on the beach, he was asking when we would be. Bondi became our local and we also walked to Bronte, had sushi at Watson’s Bay and took the ferry to Manly.
I took these photos as I wandered around Paddington and Woollahra with my camera, close to the lovely house where we stayed. These late 19th Century buildings were beautiful, the iron work like lace and the patterned shadows they created so delicate. Now gentrified and fashionable, the area has a creative and stylish feel. The architectural planting and satin silver house numbers made the Victorian homes contemporary rather than twee, and the newer colour choices were all dark, moody and sublime and the few coloured facades had faded to dusky tones. I could have walked around the area for hours more.
I found myself photographing the details, tones and patterns created by these homes but I hope this gives you a little feel for this beautiful part of Sydney.
February 3, 2013 in inspiring places
One freezing morning last month, I caught an early train out of London to look at a location for a magazine shoot I have been working on. The countryside was covered in frost and the fields whizzed before my eyes. I love how the landscape became pastel, the colours watered down by the layer of frost. Trees disappeared, fading into the distance, becoming ghostly in the damp, foggy air. I took these images through the window of the train, capturing fleeting moments of time on a chilly English morning.
Taking photos through windows and abstracting the landscape has become a regular thing I do on long journeys now. It began through the car window whilst visiting Tate Modern one rainy day and from the train on my family trip to Edinburgh last October. I have some more images through the windows of a boat, taken on a family day trip over Christmas, that I will post soon too.
December 19, 2012 in handmade goodness, inspiring places
Every year I decorate my tree in a mixture of these charming handmade Croatian decorations called ‘licitar’. This year is no different with the children helping me to hang them, carefully placing the galloping horses around the bottom branches of the tree. The top of the tree, where the children cannot reach, is hung with the smaller hearts, all slightly different, bought and collected over the years as our trees have grown to fit the spaces we live in. I have bought more of these gorgeous decorations every time I visit Zagreb.
They remind me of my childhood too. We always decorated the tree on Christmas Eve to the sound of Croatian carol singing and these decorations are unique to the Zagreb area. I love their homemade, naive and folkloric quality and I have not seen anything quite the same anywhere else. They are made from a type of honey dough, dipped in a red glaze and intricately decorated with fine piped icing, mirrors added for a little sparkle and sometimes a touch of découpage too. I painted this freehand Christmas tree on to a blank canvas for a bit of fun and to make it a feature.
They can be bought in various shapes and sizes such as hearts, horses, horseshoes, boots, birds, cherries and wreathes, and although they are sometimes referred to as gingerbread they don’t in fact contain any ginger.
Amazingly their origin dates back to the 16th century where decorated cakes were made in convents, in intricately carved moulds, and were sold in fairs and church festivals. In 2010 this style of Croatian craft was added to a UNESCO heritage list in order to help preserve its cultural significance. Nowadays the heart shapes are also given at Valentine’s Day and ‘volim te’ means ‘I love you’ in Croatian.
You can have a go at making your own if these inspire you, it shows how they are made here and you can buy them direct from Zagreb here.
I hope you like them as much as I do, they really are one of my favourite things.
Sretan Božić! (HappyChristmas!)
November 25, 2012 in handmade goodness, inspiring places, new finds
We usually try to get away for a city break during autumn half term to recharge and and gain inspiration from a change of scene. One of the reasons (or excuses!) for our recent trip to Edinburgh was to visit my lovely friend, photographer Uli Schade and her husband Andrew Dick, who have just re-located there from London. It is Andrew’s home town and since the summer they have been busy bees, designing and opening a new destination menswear, accessories and home wares shop at number 3, North West Circus Place in Stockbridge, a beautiful Georgian terrace on a cobbled street in one of Edinburgh’s smartest areas. It is now open and they celebrated with a launch party this week. Please say hello to Dick’s.
All the clothes are sourced with care from all over the world and chosen for a reason, all the companies have a story and a background. Not the usual well-known brands but more interesting small companies, featuring high quality, handmade classic styles for men. Just some of the collection includes hand frame-knitted Shetland Isle jumpers by Laurence J Smith, flannel and chambray shirts from the New England Shirt Company, Dick’s own specification varsity jackets by Golden Bear and Tellason selvedge denim jeans from San Francisco, raincoats by Stutterheim in Sweden, classic Breton tops from France, brogues and boots by Tricker’s and Eastland and superb polos and t-shirts by Sunspel, both from England. It was perfect for my husband who loved it and bought lots. There is much more in the store and they are considering introducing some womenswear in the future too. I look forward to that!
And it’s not just for boys. The accessories and home wares include notebooks made in Paris by La Compagnie du Kraft – “The most unproductive makers of notebooks in the Western world”, incense by Paine’s of Maine, ceramics by Makkum Tichelaar – designed by Atelier NL and made from local Dutch clays (Uli made a fun animated video of them on their Facebook page here). They have leather wallets, pencil cases and footballs made by Sonnenleder in southern Germany, classic canvas bags by Brady, kitchen knives by French company Opinel and Windmuehlenmesser from Germany. There are handmade wooden crows by Mikael Nilsson in Sweden and woodblock letter prints by Chris Sleath, a local printmaker based in Edinburgh, hand-printed especially for Dick’s.
We also had a sneak peak of some fab wooden sledges that will be available for Christmas – the perfect toy for big and little kids!
I have worked with Uli on many occasions over the years, most recently on my Elle Decoration story. She took the images at the top of the post and is continuing to work as a photographer, travelling to London for shoots, but will also now be able to work for companies in Scotland. I also took a few snaps of my own when we visited the shop.
Andrew and Uli have renovated the Georgian shop and basement into a simple and stylish interior – grey plaster walls, washed wooden floor and utilitarian steel and wooden fittings – that allows the beautiful clothes to breath, and the carefully selected home ware items are a perfect complement to the space. The store is only a 10 minute walk from Prince’s Street in the centre through the New Town, at 3 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh EH3 6ST (Tel 0131 226 6220). See map here.
So if you ever visit Edinburgh do pop by and say hello to Andrew and Uli and have a browse in Dick’s. There are perfect things for the men in your life and you can pick up a little something for yourself too!
If you know anyone in or near Edinburgh there please share this page with them. A new Dick’s website and online shop is underway but in the meanwhile you can follow what’s happening and see more of what is on offer if you ‘like’ their Dick’s Facebook page.
I wish Uli and Andrew the very best of success with their new venture and look forward to a return visit soon! x
November 14, 2012 in inspiring places
Over the half term school holiday recently we took a family trip to visit my old stomping ground of Edinburgh. I lived there for three years while studying printed textiles at the art college and we decided to take a city break up in Scotland and visit some friends. The train journey from London to Edinburgh Waverley whizzed by in a flash, as the countryside did through the mud-splattered glass of the windows. I took a little time taking experimental shots out of the window playing with blur and focus, and as the views changed so did my abstracted countryside. It began to rain towards the end of the journey and turned grey and dark, but the rain on the window added another layer to my images and made us really quite pleased to be in a cosy carriage.
Edinburgh is made up of the most beautiful architecture. The old town is Medieval and the new town is Georgian. Everywhere you look the architecture of the buildings is either fairytale or grand and sophisticated and even the new builds are contemporary and architecturally interesting and seem to fit in. For such a large, old city the countryside and sea are so close. Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, juts upwards from almost the centre of the city, the Scottish Parliament at its feet and giving you the most amazing 360 degree views from its peak.
The first morning we walked up Calton Hill where, as a student, I used to visit the Beltane Fire Festival which marks the beginning of summer. At night fire would be carried in procession, drums banged to a rhythm, dancers writhing between columns wearing next to nothing. A pagan celebration that was really quite ‘other worldly’ and magical. In the daytime, it is still an impressive place to visit with large monuments, an observatory and a great view over Edinburgh. When we reached the top, my children pointed straight across to Arthur’s Seat and said “come on Mum, let’s go!”, so this was the morning of two hills. The view from the volcano’s peak was even more staggering, you had a wonderful view of the sea and other surrounding hills and countryside. Wandering around the rest of the city we saw the statue of Greyfriars Bobby and I told my children the sweet tale of this Terrier who sat and guarded his master’s grave for 14 years. The masonry in this graveyard was rather gruesome though, but perfect as it was Halloween.
Another day we wandered through the New Town to Stockbridge, popping in to to see my friend Michelle at the Open Eye Gallery where there was a show of prints by Victor Pasmore, an artist I love. We then walked along the beautiful river of Leith through ancient villages to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art where it was the first day of the new S J Peploe exhibition, one of the Scottish Colourists who are a favourite of mine! It was a perfectly crisp sunny, autumn day and a perfect expedition to end a wonderful trip to Edinburgh.
Above is the view across the old town, with the Castle in the distance at the end of The Royal Mile. The Georgian grandeur of the adjacent New Town streets is gorgeous and virtually all of them retain their original windows and doors. Many still have the family name on a plaque on the front door which really gives the houses personality.
Below are the views from Calton Hill, across to Arthur’s Seat that we climbed, the countryside and out over the Firth of Forth estuary to the North Sea.
We also visited a jewellery designer friend at her home and some more friends who had opened a new shop a few days before we arrived, both of which are wonderful. I have those posts to finish and am looking forward to sharing them with you.
If you’ve never been to Edinburgh it’s a great place to visit, full of history and creativity, and you can walk almost everywhere. Just remember to wrap up warm or before you know it you’ll be popping in to one of the many pubs for a wee dram of whisky to warm you up.
October 29, 2012 in inspiring places
We visited the charming seaside town of Hastings on a day trip from Hawthbush Farm where we stayed a couple of weeks ago. It is a favourite place of my fathers and we have friends here too so have visited a few times in the past. It is a working fishing town, with tall, imposing shiplap huts lining one end of the sea front. These towering wooden structures, where the fishermen hang their nets to dry, have the most beautiful, functional hand-drawn graphics painted on them and it was this that I captured with my camera.
Among the net huts were smaller sheds and shacks where fishermen would unload or fix machinery and some were selling fresh fish and seafood where we stocked up on cockles and winkles, pints of prawns and dressed crab for our tea. I love the buildings’ ‘no frills’ simplicity and utilitarian quality.
The new Jerwood Gallery has just opened in a stunning contemporary building clad in gloss black tiles, mirroring the black shiplap huts next door. As we were wandering with the children on the beach and around the old town we ran out of time to go inside, but my parents went in and loved it. It made us want to return soon.
Hastings old town is quaint with narrow streets, independent and interesting shops, cafés and a great selection of secondhand and antique shops. Some of the best ones I popped into included Made in Hastings selling handmade goods, Alastair Hendy‘s gorgeous Home Store and also Butlers Emporium. All are worth hunting out if you visit.
There was also a wonderful old sweet shop selling all the types of sweets I had when I was little. The children’s eyes grew huge at the sight and we all left happy with liquorice sherbert dips, planning our return trip to Hastings.
October 12, 2012 in inspiring places
Last weekend we escaped London along with my brother’s family and my parents, to Sussex to celebrate my father’s big birthday. There were ten of us in all and trying to find a suitable holiday house for a few nights had been hard. After several days searching we came across Hawthbush Farm and one of their converted barns – The Cowshed. It looked perfect so we booked it. It had the right number of rooms, a large living area and kitchen, decorated in a style that would appeal to the grown-ups and lots of land, farm animals and woods for the children (big and little) to explore. We picked the children up from school and headed through the Friday evening traffic to our destination. And it didn’t disappoint.
The style of the barn really appealed to me, the sludgy colours, the exposed beams, the lighting, paintings and vintage finds, all making it feel like a home from home. The large kitchen with huge old table surrounded by school chairs was perfect for long family meals and lots of chatting. The decor had wonderful touches like these doors and cupboards made from reclaimed wooden planks left in the original state, and wooden beams stripped back to reveal their history and character.
Simple utilitarian lighting feature throughout, with exposed bulbs hanging from red cord, draped and wrapped around the barn’s old beams. The owners, Toby and Lisa, have renovated and decorated in an eco-friendly way with organic linens too, fitting in with the working organic farm that they are sited in.
Mr P, the very friendly and rather enormous and fluffy farm cat, was a welcome addition and the children just adored him.
The views through all the windows were picture perfect and it was a pleasure watching the sheep grazing in the field behind us. It was a little grey and drizzly when we arrived but the weather turned the next morning and was glorious for an early October break. Perfect for exploring the woods and disovering all kinds of mushrooms, toadstools and other types of fungus and berries. Wild plants and flowers silhouetted against the evening sky and a rich warm glow from low autumn sun.
Apart from the other converted barns and the owners’ amazing farmhouse you couldn’t see any next door neighbours (apart from the sheep, cows and chickens) in any direction, just fields and woods. It was such a change from our usual urban weekend in the city. There was even an outdoor wooden hot tub, steaming away overlooking a field of sheep which was a lovely touch. If glamping is your thing there are also old shepherd huts and a 1950s caravan in fields nearby, with interiors decorated in a similar style. You can also camp, have an event or wedding here and there is studio space that can be rented for day courses and retreats. Something for everyone.
We really did have a lovely weekend here, with a couple of trips to the seaside at Hastings and Rye too which are both close by. We all enjoyed the peace and complete change of scenery and the children were happy splashing in muddy puddles and exploring the countryside. Real family fun.
There are lots of photos on the Hawthbush Farm website and you can see photos of the amazing renovation of the dilapidated farm on their Facebook page.
October 2, 2012 in inspiring places
At the end of the summer holidays I spent a joyful two weeks back at art school, listening to lectures and painting with a friend. It was a wonderful experience to have the freedom and time to paint. I usually fulfil my creativity at home by making, stitching, photographing and painting furniture, or for work it may be painting onto canvas as props for shoots but it’s not usually just painting art. I do get strong urges to paint, but it’s only on rare occasions (like here and here) that I have been able to make a few hours at a time to do it – so to have two weeks dedicated to this was bliss. I also wanted to discover my painting voice. Having worked as a textile designer producing over 500 hand painted designs a year, I could work in many different styles to suit different markets and trends but now I wanted to find a particular direction to paint in.
We learnt so much, like how to mix pigments and make our own paints and were pushed to experiment and try new ideas and step out of our comfort zones. I have always worked in acrylic, a medium I am comfortable working with, so I have also now bought some artist oil paints and am trying these too.
The building itself was beautiful and working in such an environment could only be inspirational. Corridors with high ceilings and huge windows letting in light onto the simple white and grey interior. I loved the paint splattered chairs and furniture that were everywhere, proof of the creativity of the hundreds of students that had worked in these spaces over the years.
I stepped away from my usual colour palette and started with some brightly coloured abstract paintings that were quite expressionistic, inspired by the colours of the Adriatic I had seen on holiday. I gravitated back to the more subdued palette of my current favourite greys and indigos with the occasional pop of mustard yellow or dusky pink. Some of my “work in progress” is below.
The joys of college life included mixing paint colours, canteen lunches, wearing old painterly clothes (or one of my husband’s old shirts!), standing up in front of the class and being critiqued, the camaraderie of fellow class members, having a break outside with a cup of tea on the steps, reminiscing about being an art degree student, listening to fellow students’ ideas and passions and the joy that comes when you paint a canvas that you are really pleased with. It was lovely to share it all with a good friend too. (Thank you H for taking the pic of me below!)
It’s almost twenty years since I left art college and it was great to be back. I don’t believe it’s ever too late to learn, there is always something new. I really enjoyed this time and now have lots of paintings stacked around the house. I can highly recommend going back to school and studying again and I think I am hooked. Taking a new course may well become an annual summer event.
I will definitely be continuing my painting and my dream would be to have an exhibition in the future, but who knows. It’s good to have dreams and goals.
September 4, 2012 in inspiring places
Whilst on holiday in Croatia we are always surrounded by boats as a large part of island life is spent in and on the water. All types and sizes of vessel are moored up in the village harbour, alongside jetties and in the port and marinas on the mainland. Some of the boats are pristine and others well used, from weathered and rusty fishing boats to little, hand-painted putt-putts and enormous super yachts, where you wonder which billionaire magnate is on board.
The repeating geometric patterns of masts and and colours and textures of hefty ropes and weathered wood all caught my eye and I thought I would share a few more photos from my summer.
Graphic lettering and registration numbers stencilled onto the side of quaint traditional wooden fishing boats with gulls circling overhead, hoping for the scraps to be thrown overboard. Natural monochromatic colours combine with washed-out tones and hints of rust while painted whites pop with splashes of blue, the traditional boating colours.
Whilst growing up my brother and I would take out my grandfather’s little boat and row to town or along the coast to hidden little coves, and now our children are enjoying the water and boats just as we did.
Seeing these boating influences each summer was one of the inspirations behind the children’s play sail and pirate flag project in my book The Homemade Home for Children. And some of you may recognise the cheeky little captain of this boat.
Aye aye Captain!
August 29, 2012 in inspiring places
Swimming daily in the beautiful, clear, Adriatic is one of the favourite parts of my holidays in Croatia. This summer we went on a friend’s little boat for a day trip, stopping in idyllic little bays for swims and snorkelling, the children jumping off the boat and laughing. Throughout the day I found myself simply pointing the camera straight at the ever-changing sea, capturing the amazing colours and textures that appeared as the depth of the water and current changed – from midnight blue to aquamarine, navy to cyan to turquoise.
These were all taken around the beautiful islands of Kornati, a Croatian national park that is a popular tourist destination with day trippers and sailors alike. If you ever visit Croatia then I highly recommend island hopping and taking boat trips to fully enjoy the beauty of the coastline.